The following positions have been adopted by the ASA Panel on Public Policy and endorsed by the Executive Council:
10 July 2020
ASA Policy Statement on Acoustic Hailing Devices
Acoustic hailing devices (AHDs), including Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs), were developed originally as military communication systems and are designed to project an intense, focused beam of acoustic energy over long ranges. As such, they are capable of delivering dangerously high sound levels (both verbal and siren-like signals) when employed at shorter ranges. In recent years, AHDs are used increasingly by law enforcement and related agencies to communicate with civilian populations at short ranges, for example, “crowd control” scenarios.
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) recognizes potential risks to human health caused by AHDs, including permanent hearing loss and strongly urges:
- Law enforcement agencies and organizations using or proposing to use AHDs for crowd control purposes to develop and adhere to strict safety guidelines on their use; these guidelines must prominently include limits on the level and duration of exposure to potentially traumatizing sounds consistent with established safety guidelines (e.g., NIH, CDC)
- The establishment of rigorous training procedures for device operators
- Funding of scientific research aimed at (a) assessing the level of risk associated with exposure to AHD signals, especially for vulnerable individuals, and (b) assessing levels within sound fields produced by AHDs in potentially untested settings such as highly reverberant urban environments
To ensure safe use of AHDs, the ASA further encourages the development of evidence-based policies on AHD usage by law enforcement and related agencies to protect targeted individuals, bystanders, and personnel from AHD-induced trauma, in addition to the implementation of procedures for monitoring and reporting AHD usage, and the establishment of public oversight, transparency and accountability mechanisms.
Recognizing the need to employ emerging technologies responsibly, the ASA recommends suspension of AHD use by law enforcement agencies for crowd-control purposes pending installation of safeguards to ensure the safety of the public.
ASA Meetings Harassment Policy
It is the policy of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) that all participants in Society activities will enjoy an environment free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. As a professional society, ASA is committed to providing an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. In pursuit of that ideal,
ASA is dedicated to the philosophy of equality of opportunity and treatment for all members regardless of any other reason not related to scientific merit. Harassment, sexual or otherwise, is a form of misconduct that undermines the integrity of Society meetings. Violators of this policy will be subject to discipline.
U.S. Ratification of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is an international scientific society with a membership of approximately 7,000 that spans a wide range of academic disciplines and industries centered on acoustics. Consistent with its overall mission, the ASA advocates the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research and education programs in an effort to strengthen the international STEM workforce. Barriers to the achievement of this goal are numerous and prominently include a wide range of communication disorders that can compromise education in STEM areas and limit participation of disabled individuals in the science and technology labor force, as well as society at large.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a convention adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 2006, forms a foundation upon which sovereign nations may independently implement programs that safeguard the rights of disabled persons to enjoy equal access to medicine, education and modern communication technologies, as well as fairness in the workplace.
It is in that light that the ASA fully endorses the international effort to enhance access of disabled persons to STEM education and promotes active participation of communication disabled persons in the global science and technology enterprise, and recommends U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities subject to the understanding that the Convention has no effect on U.S. sovereignty or the rights of its citizenry.
Acoustic emissions of wind turbines include airborne, underwater, infrasonic, and structure borne sounds, and have been reported by individuals living near these facilities. Wind turbine acoustic emissions and their potential effects should be investigated and fully addressed in an interdisciplinary manner. The Acoustical Society of America urges that guidelines for relating wind turbine sound descriptors to probabilities of adverse effects be developed, to aid in wise wind energy planning. Methods for measuring and quantifying wind turbine acoustic emissions, particularly at very low frequencies, should be developed that support the interdisciplinary findings.
The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is committed to making acoustics more accessible to everyone, and asserts that all individuals, regardless of racial identity, ethnic background, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, or national origin, must be provided equal opportunity in the field of acoustics. The Society upholds the belief that diversity enriches the field of acoustics, and is working to diversify its membership and the acoustics community in general by identifying barriers to implementing this change, and is taking an active role in organizational and institutional efforts to bring about such change. The Society actively supports efforts by the acoustics community to better engage the knowledge and talents of a diverse population, increase the viability of acoustics as a career option for all individuals, and promote the pursuit of acoustics careers by members of historically under-represented groups.
The ASA affirms that classrooms shall meet the noise and reverberation levels specified in ANSI Standard S12.60. Further, provided that sound field amplification systems are used in conjunction with ANSI S12.60, the ASA recognizes their usefulness for core classrooms to augment teachers’ voices as multimedia sound distribution systems. In case of moderate activity noise, the sound field amplification system can be employed to augment the teacher’s voice, especially for a quiet topic. Amplification systems should not be used in attempt to substitute for good acoustics. To ensure their success, the ASA advocates that classroom noise levels and reverberation times be documented prior to installing sound field amplification systems. Acoustical consultants or credentialed school audiologists properly trained and equipped may screen and document classrooms for sound field systems.
Noise in Wilderness
The Acoustical Society of America advocates the restoration of the natural soundscape in federally protected areas.